Terrorists Threaten Surge In Attacks In Kashmir

Terrorists Threaten Surge In Attacks In Kashmir

28 August 2013
AFP


Muzaffarabad: Terrorists are threatening an 'unprecedented' surge in attacks on Indian targets as deadly skirmishes imperil any rapprochement between Pakistan's new government and New Delhi. A fresh influx of battle-hardened fighters is ready to flood Kashmir, where India and Pakistan have fought two wars, from Afghanistan when Nato troops quit next year. Syed Salahudeen, the head of United Jihad Council, an umbrella organisation of groups, said 'thousands' of militants would move across from Afghanistan. 'The coming months and years will see a tremendous surge in mujahideen's activities in Kashmir,' he told AFP. 'The encounter between mujahideen and Indian forces will enhance to an unprecedented level. The increase in attacks will be enormous and Indian forces will face huge losses.' Regular deadly exchanges of fire across the heavily militarised Line of Control (LoC) have killed 11 people since August 5 and sent tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours soaring. The latest spate of clashes began when five Indian soldiers were killed in a raid that Delhi blamed on the Pakistani military. The attack came shortly after Pakistan's new Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took office, promising to improve ties with India. Pakistan flatly denied any involvement in the killings and Sharif has consistently urged restraint and dialogue to resolve the dispute, which dates back to independence from Britain in 1947. Sharif also wants to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly next month, although New Delhi has since warned the violence may make this impossible. Terrorists now claim they no longer need the clandestine support of the Pakistani security establishment, signalling that the conflict in Kashmir is increasingly out of Pakistan's control. Pakistan has also faced a bitter backlash in the form of a Taliban-led insurgency that has killed thousands of people. 'Kashmiri youths realise that they should now rely on themselves,' said Uzair Ahmed, a militant with the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen group. 'The attacks on Indian forces by Kashmiri mujahideen have already been enhanced during the last three to four months... and the coming three-four years will be very difficult for the Indian forces.' Abdul Aziz Alvi, the Kashmir head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), blacklisted as a terror organisation by the United Nations and United States, said the militants command wide support. 'We, the citizens of Pakistani Kashmir, will also provide them support, whatever they require from us, because fighting to free our homeland is our basic duty,' he told AFP. A deadly flare-up along the LoC in January halted peace talks that had only just resumed after a three-year hiatus sparked by the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, which India blamed on Pakistani terrorists. Delhi and Islamabad agreed a ceasefire in 2003 after the Pakistan army's incursion in the Kargil sector in 1999 brought the two countries to the brink of war. India says the number of infiltration attempts across the LoC in January to August this year doubled compared with the same period last year. But a senior official in the Indian army's northern command told AFP 'almost all' the attempts to smuggle fighters across the LoC had been thwarted. 'It is usual during the summer months that infiltration attempts by militants increase because the mountain passes are open,' he said on condition of anonymity. India still accuses Pakistan of providing logistical help to the fighters, though Islamabad insists it extends only moral and political support. Progress on the issue is hampered by political considerations - both governments face swingeing crtiticism from hardliners if they make any kind of conciliatory move. Sharif in some senses is in a strong position, having won a landslide election in May, although it is Pakistan's powerful army that is considered the final arbiter of foreign policy.